Mugar: Most of it is the triangular tract west of Thorndike Field. / Google Earth
Mugar: Most of it is the triangular tract west of Thorndike Field. / Google Earth

A decision about the long-opposed Mugar project to develop the tract of land west of Arlington’s Thorndike Field faces more delays.

Selectboard logo, May 20, 2019Board Chair Steve DeCourcey explained the latest developments at the Feb. 7 Select Board meeting: The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) issued its decision, the abutters surrounding the site filed an appeal in Superior Court and the applicant, Oaktree of North Cambridge, filed an appeal to the Housing Appeals Committee (HAC).

Unless there is a mutually accepted resolution between the ZBA, abutters and applicant, “we’re probably looking at another three years for this matter to be resolved — a year to 18 months for the HAC to litigate, and then the abutters would proceed in Superior Court, which is another year to 18 months,” said Town Counsel Doug Heim. The town has opposed the project since 2015.

“When there are two appeals simultaneously from abutters and the applicant, the applicant appealing to the HAC takes precedent. So the abutters' Superior Court action is stayed while the HAC’s examination of Arlington Land Realty’s argument are assessed,” explained Heim.

The board unanimously agreed to first meet with Special Counsel John Witten to discuss and formulate their plans regarding appeals and environmental issues, and then schedule a closed meeting with Heim.

Heim explained that, “The ZBA’s Nov. 22, 2021, decision was appealed by Arlington Land Realty because certain conditions rendered the project uneconomic and some conditions are outside the scope of 40B. 

“At around the same time, several abutters also appealed to the Superior Court because they believe that some of the decision is faulty and lacked information that is necessary before rendering it. 

“The abutters also filed a motion to intervene in that action, so they are essentially joining in. The HAC wants the parties to engage in mediation to see if their issues can be resolved,” said Heim.

Environmental issues

DeCourcey said, “The ZBA put in place several conditions on the site, one of which is to test the groundwater. The applicant’s funding to clean up the site put money into escrow to restore the site, which has significant environmental concerns.”

“I find it disappointing that the applicant said they were going to do something, and now challenge this decision. It behooves us as a board to see what potential enforcement actions there are. If this is the route that the applicant wants to go down, we should be talking to the Conservation Commission to see what actions they can take to get compliance on the clean-up.”

Watch the whole Feb. 7 board meeting on ACMi:

Feb. 21, 2022: Select Board, town manager provide new goals

This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022.